Sunday, February 05, 2006

Bay of the Descending Dragon

Calm If you can spare a 2-day trip out of Hanoi, then a visit to Halong Bay should definitely be on the cards. For more information on this natural site, take a clicking trip to Wikipedia here.

About 170 kilometres east of Hanoi, the trip to Halong Bay by coach should have taken only an hour and a half at most, but with current speed limits on the nation's highways restricted to no more than 60 kph, be prepared for a really slow leisurely 3-hour drive along the countryside.

Beautiful limestone islands and outcroppings surround this calm and serene bay. According to local legend (as narrated by our local guide), Vinh Halong (otherwise known as the Bay of the Descending Dragon) was so named after a family of dragons had descended from the heavens to help the locals fight foreign invaders. The dragons spitted out jade and jewels which turned into the limestone islands surrounding the bay and kept the invaders out.
On the Bay
One can choose to do a day-trip (if pressed for time) but for us, the overnight stay on a junk anchored out on the bay was a nice respite from our usual hectic city-life. We had booked with Huong Hai Junks Company, and were pleasantly surprised that with a minimum booking of 6 persons, we had the entire junk to ourselves. There are about 5 bedrooms, all situated on the lower deck, each with attached bathrooms and hot water, the dining room is on the next level and finally a very comfortable sun-deck on the top level allows one to enjoy the sea-breezes and the warmth of the sun (very welcomed during the winter week of January). All meals (two lunches, a dinner and a breakfast) are served on board. Picture above was taken from our junk just as dusk approached. Absolutely serene, isn't it?

A word of warning though, entertainment on board the junk is truly up to the individual. The men might like to do a spot of fishing but if you are a bunch of 6 women like us, endless conversation and gossip into the night is entertainment enough.

While on the bay, we visited an enormous cave grotto called Hang Dau Go. The huge cavernous interior has three inner chambers and spectacular displays of stalactites and stalagmites. Some of them are shown in the pics below. Very awesome! The one below reminded me of a huge atomic mushroom cloud.
Mushroom Cloud

This one, with its blue lighting, looked like the craters of the moon.
Moon Crater Blue

Finger or More?

This one, I will leave to your own vivid imagination! But you can probably picture the fun and giggles the six Gorge(ou)s had with this one :)

On exiting the cave grotto, I also spotted this limestone formation of a pair of legs dangling over the ledge.
Dangling Legs
And finally, a shot of the six Gorge(ou)s doing a bit of vigorous morning boxercises on the deck of our junk! Our local guide collapsed totally in laughter after taking this shot, and so did we after all that high-kicking stuff!
Morning Boxercise


Blogger slurp! said...

woah! beautiful! the caves were fascinating as well. Ladies giggling at the red hot thing, hmmm... i wonder what's that? :P
thanks for the tip on entertainment, I will remember to bring portable mahjong set there hahahaha :D

I read that halong used to have lots of pirates in the past. obviously, so many caves to hide hehehe ... . And also about local children singing with the most beautiful voices.

p.s: woould you mind sharing the expenditures for this trip? i.e bus trip & rental of the whole junk? just needed to info for some planning. thanks!

2/06/2006 12:09:00 AM  
Blogger fooDcrazEE said...

nice place. Been there. Where u stayed ? I was in Heritage b4

2/06/2006 01:10:00 PM  
Blogger eatzycath said...

hi slurp, we paid US$75 per pax for the junk, at a total of US$450 for 6 pax we could hire the whole junk to ourselves. We didn't take the normal bus, as we had chartered an 8-seater minivan for our entire trip to Hanoi - cost of minivan per day is about US$60.

hi foodcrazee, at Halong Bay, we stayed on board the junk (Huong Hay Junks) while in Hanoi, we stayed at Lucky 2 Hotel right in the midst of the Old Quarter!

2/06/2006 10:19:00 PM  
Blogger shaz said...

hey there
I just went to hanoi in december and i loved it! im a fellow foodie blogger from singapore as well! nice to chance upon another singaporean's blog. check out my posts on my trip.

2/06/2006 10:40:00 PM  
Blogger shaz said...

i added your blog as a link on mine, I hope you dun mind

2/06/2006 10:45:00 PM  
Blogger slurp! said...

cath, thank you so much!

2/06/2006 10:51:00 PM  
Blogger fooDcrazEE said...

*wishing* I need to go to HCMC for a HOLS and all that to EAT all the DELISH food i miss there....

2/07/2006 01:16:00 PM  
Blogger pfong said...

This looks lovely. You've made me want to see this for myself.

2/07/2006 03:04:00 PM  
Blogger eatzycath said...

hi shaz, link away, it's always nice to hear from another flogger.. like ur posts on Hanoi too, must get back there again soon!

slurp! ur welcomed anytime!

foodcrazee - i also wish the same-leh!

pfong - I cannot recommend it highly enough, do go before it gets too commercialized and developed as with all good things, *sigh*

2/07/2006 07:15:00 PM  
Blogger olduvai said...

I've been wanting to make a trip down to halong bay and after seeing this, i might just call up a travel agent soon!

2/07/2006 08:31:00 PM  
Blogger Eggy said...

Hi Cath, thanks for stopping by my blog. I left a reply to you there. Your posts about Vietnam make me want to go back there and eat, eat, eat!

2/07/2006 11:04:00 PM  
Blogger Giant Squid said...

so beautiful! I'm looking forward to seeing more photos!

2/08/2006 12:25:00 PM  
Blogger Clare Eats said...

Great caves! and great photos!

2/09/2006 08:26:00 PM  
Blogger eatzycath said...

hi olduvai, thanks for dropping by, look out for the tiger airways promotions!

hi eggy, I share the same sentiments!

thanks giant squid and clare :)

2/09/2006 08:36:00 PM  
Anonymous gwenda said...

thank you cath for the thorough travel report on hanoi! it was a very enjoyable read (gawd the food made me so hungry)! man i've gotta visit the place someday!

2/09/2006 11:56:00 PM  

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